A few signs that the peacekeeping mission in Darfur may be struggling:

  •  African Union soldiers have to buy paint to turn their helmets United Nations-blue
  • Slightly more than one-third of troops are in place, and the full contingent may not be deployed for a year
  • A commander has begun to talk about miracles 
If it wasn’t evident to people that the Darfur peacekeeping mission has been limping along for some time, a New York Times article published today should set the record straight. The peacekeeping situation warrants some analysis not only because hundreds of thousands of lives depend on UNAMID’s ability to protect, but also because a new force stepped in on January 1st. 
 
From Green Helmets to Blue
 
Lydia Polgreen’s article discussed many of the obstacles faced by the hybrid African Union/United Nations peacekeeping force. However, she didn’t really get into any of the problems created by the United States. With the spotlight currently on China, that’s easy to understand. Still, the absence of any mention of the United States’ role seems like a glaring omission to me. 
 
Everyone who follows the genocide realizes that China and the Sudanese Government could give a crap about the people of Darfur. But what about the fact that the United States Congress has allowed a budget shortfall of $334 million for peacekeeping efforts for 2008? Furthermore, although President Bush authorized the deployment of the UNAMID peacekeeping force, there is much more he could be doing. He should authorize funds for American allies to donate helicopters. Meanwhile, there are citizen action groups trying to raise money to pay for civilian protection, and the equipment that UNAMID troops so desperately need. But it’s easy to push China in front of the bus when our own indifference pales in comparison to their continued financing of genocide. 
 
If you were frustrated/pissed off/saddened by anything you read in the Polgreen article, you CAN do something. Taking action here in the U.S. to stop the genocide can be almost effortless:
 
If you want to tell Congress to fully fund the peacekeeping mission at $334 million, call 1-800-GENOCIDE. You’ll be connected to the staffer for your state. 
 
If you want to remind President Bush about his obligations to the peacekeeping effort, ask him to implement the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA) by April 29th. Read more about SADA, and send the president a message here.*
 
*These actions are courtesy of Genocide Intervention Network 
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